Do Schools Just Prepare Children For Exams?

70% of teachers want schools to prepare students for more than just exams.

A report out last week by Big Change and the Innovation Unit shows that pupils, parents and teachers all agree there now needs to be a significant shift in focus in the education system so that it focuses less on cramming information for exams.

  • 84% of teachers think school is about preparing children for exams, but three-quarters of all teachers wish this wasn’t the main focus.
  • 60% of all children aged 11-18, and 50% of parents of children aged 11-18, want schools to focus on more than passing exams.

Teachers, parents and students all wanted to see more focus on preparing young people for the future and helping them to become good citizens:

  • 84% of teachers and 65% of children aged 11-18 wish that education did more to help students learn about making a positive difference to society and the planet. 
  • Only 36% of young people feel they have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the modern economy
  • Parents wish that schools would prioritise helping students find what they are passionate about (32%), improve their communication skills (42%) and learn about the environment - a far cry from what they feel schools do best, which is preparing them to pass exams. 
  • 64% of teachers wanted education to prioritise helping students get the job they want.
The ‘Reimagining Education Together' report highlights twenty examples from across the world of pioneers showing how businesses, parents, governments and whole communities can come together to reimagine education and take learning beyond the classroom.

Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at the OECD, said: “Where systems don’t involve parents or teachers in the design of change, they are unlikely to help you with implementing it. That is why educational leaders are rarely successful with reform unless they build a shared understanding and collective ownership for change, and unless they create accountability measures designed to encourage innovation rather than compliance. 

"The exam system in the UK, in particular, is not currently doing this, and teachers, students and parents feel disempowered. This report should lay the foundations for us to give everyone in the system the tools to effect the change we need."

Holly Branson, Co-Founder of Big Change, said: “The findings that young people, parents and teachers all agree that more should be done to help students learn about making a difference in society is not surprising.  School should be a time for self-discovery, building resilience and becoming fully-rounded individuals who can make a positive contribution to the world.

“However, our current system fails to nurture and prepare the 'whole' child for our rapidly changing world, concentrating instead on highly-pressured test-based curriculum that cares more about league tables than it does the creation of a thirst for knowledge.  We need a seismic shift throughout the entire learning ecosystem. We need to nurture students, embrace their natural curiosity and recognise their individuality.”

Here at Panjango, we are creating a world of experiential learning that enables young people not just to survive, but to thrive in life after school. Our games and resources not only help young people to find their purpose, so they are more likely to find meaningful employment, but also equip them with the practical knowledge, skills and experience needed to fulfil their potential and make a positive contribution to a rapidly changing society.